Olympic Flame torch relay for Vancouver Winter Games starts at Olympia

09:14, October 23, 2009      

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Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), gives a speech during the lighting ceremony for the Olympic Flame for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games in ancient Olympia on Oct. 22, 2009. Greek actress Nafpliotou, playing the role of High Priestess, lit the holy flame successfully. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

The journey of the Olympic Flame towards Canada for the 2010 Winter Olympics started on a sunny Thursday afternoon amid the ruins of Olympia's ancient Stadium, with the successful ending of the Lighting Ceremony.

Blessed by 22 actresses-priestesses praying to "Apollo, God of Sun, and Zeus, Father of Gods to light the torch for the hospitable city of Vancouver and give peace to all peoples on earth", the torch with the sacred flame which was lit by sun's rays during a ritual was given by the High Priestess to the first torchbearer, Greek slalom champion Vassilis Dimitriadis.

Under the cheers of hundreds of people and the wishes for best success from personalities like International Olympic Committee chairman Jacques Rogge who attended the ceremony, the proud 31-year-old athlete run out of the Stadium past Pierre De Coubertin's Grove, passing the Olympic Flame to the next torchbearer.

Starting from the birthplace of the Olympic Games, the sacred Flame will be traveling for the next four months until it reaches Vancouver on February 12th. On the Greek leg of the relay it will cover some 2,180 kilometers, about 650 kilometers further the torch race which took place for the Beijing Olympics, passing through archeological sites and ski centers.

On October 29 the flame will be passed over to the Canadian organizers inside Athens Panathenian Stadium where the first modern Olympics were revived in 1896.

During the Canadian part of the relay which will be the longest in Olympic history so far to take place in a single country, the flame will travel more than 45,000 kilometers by land, air and water until it reaches Vancouver on February 12th for the opening of the 21st Winter Olympic Games.

Source: Xinhua
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